Making intellectual property work for development

  • 26 April 2007

How can intellectual property be harnessed to promote economic development? This was the question under scrutiny yesterday at an ICC-hosted event which took place at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva on the occasion of World Intellectual property day.

The event was the fourth in a series of panel discussions entitled Making Intellectual Property Work for Development, established by ICC to help inform current WIPO discussions on the Development Agenda – an initiative to better integrate the development dimension into WIPO’s work. Outcomes of the discussions will provide some of the business input for the next WIPO meeting on the Development Agenda due to take place in June.

Moderated by Ambassador Enrique Manalo from the Philippines and Peter Siemsen, Brazilian Vice-Chair of the ICC Commission on Intellectual Property the discussion – aimed to help negotiators understand how the intellectual property system works in practice and how it can be used to create wealth and employment.

The animated gathering attracted representation from every corner of the globe, including Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, and heard views and issues from a variety of industry sectors.

Ana-Maria Pacón is a professor of law at the Catholic University of Peru and is former president of the Tribunal for the Defense of the Free Competition and Protection of the Intellectual Property of the National Patent Office of Peru. She described how the intellectual property (IP) scenario had become much more complex since the adoption of the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement. Ms Pacón urges governments to draw from the wide offering of views available to find the right balance for their countries within the framework of existing multilateral and bilateral obligations.

Infosys Technologies is headquartered in Bangalore, India with over 72 000 employees in 21 countries worldwide. BG Srinivas, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa Operations explained how liberalization programmes in India in the early 1990’s had brought in foreign direct investment and facilitated technology acquisition in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector. Mr Srinivas concluded that overall the impact of strengthening intellectual property frameworks in India had been positive and that as a result India’s ICT industry was now focusing on IP creation to add value for customers.

Isabel Chng, Director of Patents at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) enlightened the audience on IPOS initiatives to make Singaporeans ‘IP ready’ by educating school children about IP, and to teach businesses how to use the IP system to be more competitive.

Bryan McPherson, European Intellectual Property Manager for the global construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, told delegates that intellectual property was one of several factors taken into consideration when taking transfer of technology decisions. Companies look for stability, predictability, strong relationships and an even playing field, he stated.

Radha Ranganathan, Director, Technical Affairs, International Seed Federation, coordinates seed industry activities in the areas of sustainable agriculture, genetic resources and phytosanitary issues at the international level. Ms Ranganathan pointed out that because the culture of crop varieties and species had moved from one region to another throughout history and because borders had been redefined, it was now impossible to identify their origin.